united students against sweatshops
1150 17th St. NW Suite 300 Washington DC 20036; tel: 202-NOSWEAT; fax: 202-293-5308 www.studentsagainstsweatshops.org

Press Release October 10, 2005

WHAT: Costume action to demand Target, Rubies, Mattel and Warner Bros. recognize the right to form a union in their Mexican apparel factories
WHEN: Monday, October 10 at 1pm
WHERE: Riverdale Target store at 40 W. 225 St./off Broadway (1 train to 225 St. stop)
CONTACTS: Bennett Baumer 347-400-1346, Stephen Coats USLEAP 773-262-6502

Mexican and American labor organizations demonstrate in Halloween costumes in front of Bronx Target to denounce child labor and sweatshop conditions in Mexican factory that makes Barbie apparel and Harry Potter Halloween costumes.

Students, concerned community members and labor rights advocates dressed in Halloween costumes will join Mexican organizer Jorge Pérez of the Vanguardia Obrera union at 1pm Monday, October 10, in front of the Riverdale, Bronx Target to demand the store, Queens based Rubie’s, Mattel and Warner Brothers companies stop the sweatshop conditions at plants that make their products.

Toiling in a cockroach invested shop floor at Rubie’s Costume factory in Tepeji del Río, Hidalgo, Mexico (60 miles north of Mexico City) where sewing machines needle punctures are common, workers formed a union to make improvements in their working conditions. Workers as young as 13 years old, make Halloween costumes for Rubie’s, Mattel (Barbie), and Warner Brothers labels, and are subjected to forced pregnancy tests, unpaid overtime, and unsanitary bathrooms. However factory management at the Rubie’s Costume maquiladora (factory that produces for foreign markets) has refused to recognize the workers’ demands and locked out its labor force over five months ago.

Thus far, negotiations between the worker elected union and the Rubie’s plant, Mattel and Warner Brothers have gone no where. The companies are trying to hide from the sweatshop conditions in their plants and we must force them to uphold their corporate codes of conduct  http://www.mattel.com/about_us/Corp_Responsibility/cr_global.asp. Specifically, we ask that Rubie’s and its clients agree to the following points:

1. Rubie’s and its clients must take public responsibility for the company’s actions.
2. They must respect the signed collective bargaining agreement with the Vanguardia Obrera.
3. A support fund must be established for the families of the underage workers to enable them to complete their educations.
4. They must pay the lost wages of the workers for the time they have been locked out.
5. They must commit to an independent monitoring mechanism (for example, the Worker Rights Consortium or an independent Mexican organization) to ensure that Rubie’s factories in Mexico comply with Mexican law.
6. And Rubie’s must guarantee neutrality in any union organizing effort at its factories or those of its subcontractors.